Poly B piping is becoming an issue for homeowners across North America. Commonly installed in homes throughout the 1980s and 90s, Poly B is now causing some headaches as unexpected structures issues become apparent.
If your home has Poly B pipes, you need to know what the danger is, and what your options are? The danger is simply that your pipes are likely to fail, and you could be facing an emergency plumbing situation. It’s best to replace your Poly B pipes, but that is costly.
By understanding the factors that contribute to the failure of PolyB pipes you can extend the life of your Poly B pipes. Yes, that would be postponing the inevitable, but sometimes that’s a valid course of action, and you might as well get your money’s worth out of those pipes while you put your plan in place to have them replaced.
There are a few factors that accelerate failure of Poly B systems. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your existing Poly B pipes will take on no more wear and tear than necessary. You will need a qualified plumber to implement these steps.
First, have the plumber replace any plastic insert fittings (which are used to connect the pipes) with metal ones. Second, ensure that the aluminum bands which hold the pipe in place are not over-crimped. This can result in hairline fractures. Another issue is water pressure. The third step is to keep your home’s water pressure down to between 40 and 60 psi to reduce pressure and stress on the pipes and fittings.
A major problem with Poly B is that it softens when exposed to heat. If you have Poly B pipes installed in an area of high temperatures, such as near a hot water tank, there’s a good chance the pipes are already damaged. Wait a minute! you’re thinking, my pipes carry hot water, don’t they? They sure do. The fourth step to prolong the life of your Poly B pipes is to turn your hot water heater somewhere below 82 C or 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prolonging the life of your Poly B pipes is a short term solution. Ultimately, the best solution is to change your pipes. If you are replacing your Poly B pipes, you will most likely be going to PEX pipes. PEX (cross-linked polyethylene) is a new material, similar to Poly B, but with a strong molecular structure which resists the deformation that Poly B is susceptible to. Unlike Poly B, PEX pipes are not softened by heat once they are formed.